ICD-10 Transition: Why there's more talk about how to improve ICD-9 coding

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

There's a shift in how ICD-10 advocates are making their case for the new code set.

Instead of trying to scare healthcare professionals with dire warnings of an impending codapocalypse, they're explaining how ICD-10 implementation can help healthcare providers now.

I look at how ICD-10 training could have an impact sooner rather than later. Clinical documentation improvement (CDI) is the big winner in that scenario. And that's going to help your medical coding now.

Torrey Barnhouse cuts out the subtlety with "5 ICD-10 Steps that Deliver Collateral Benefit for ICD-9." He touches upon a training issue that I missed. Medical coder training needs to start with reinforcing their anatomy and physiology knowledge will help them with ICD-9 codes now.

CDI and computer assisted coding (CAC) get shout outs also. The theory behind CAC's short-term impact says that it can immediately boost productivity. Which is why another suggestion - examining and improving work flows - is worth mentioning. If a hospital or medical practice can increase productivity without paying for expensive systems, then that's a huge benefit now.

It's a smart strategy because all the arguments for ICD-10 implementation cite benefits that aren't concrete or immediate. Frankly, we're going to have to wait a long time to see if all that granularity is going to improve patient care. Given how expensive and difficult the ICD-10 transition is made to sound (codapocalypse), it's no wonder that the American Medical Association (AMA) is so vigorously opposed.

I'm not saying this is going to usher in a golden age of ICD-10 implementation, but it's going to change the discussion in a subtle way. The conversation will focus on improving the business of healthcare as opposed to complying with a government mandate. Which would you rather do?

So What Was Wrong With ICD-9?

Paul Cerrato takes on the issue of granularity in his defense of ICD-10 coding in Informationweek. He explains it this way:

"Much of the granular data generated from ICD-10 can be analyzed and used to do population surveillance. It can help policymakers determine public health campaigns and detect epidemics before they get out of hand. And the new coding system will also provide a treasure trove of data for public health researchers as they try to understand patient behavior and attitudes about risk taking. So, yes, knowing where specific types of injuries occur on a farm, for example, has merit."

So physicians aren't just treating patients, they're helping make public health policy. I'm not sure that's going to make them feel better. (Informationweek)

The Top 5 ICD-10 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Technology Vendors

Kristi Kenny lists five questions you need to ask any vendor who you are working with. (ICD-10 Hub)

The clock strikes twelve...

Linda Renee Brown explains why the conventional wisdom on ICD-10 training - if you learn too early, you will forget it - is wrong. "Everything you teach physicians about documentation for ICD-10 will improve their documentation under ICD-9." She also explains how to retain the knowledge and use it in clinical documentation improvement (CDI). (ACDIS Blog)

ICD-10 transition best practices: Staying ahead despite delays

This guest post by Wendy Whittington reads a bit like it was written before the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the proposed one-year delay of ICD-10 implementation. But her list of suggestions still are good first steps for any ICD-10 transition project. (Health IT Exchange)

CodeitRight Insights Newsletter

This newsletter focuses on specific medical coding tips. There is enough here about ICD-10 to help coders keep their knowledge fresh through the extendend transition. (CodeItRightOnline.com)

Coding Diabetes Mellitus in ICD-10-CM: Improved coding for Diabetes Mellitus Complements Present Medical Science

Karen Kostick looks at how diabetes mellitus diagnoses are represented in the ICD-10 code set. The May issue also has a couple more articles for AHIMA members only:

(Journal of AHIMA)

CMS, WEDI working out the HIPAA 5010 issues

There is a massive effort to round up the reasons that healthcare payers are using to reject medical claims. (ICD10 Watch)

Jvion releases tool to help providers assess ICD-10 revenue impact

Jvion, a healthcare consulting firm, recently launched a tool that assesses the financial risks of ICD-10 implementation for healthcare providers. (ICD10 Watch)

Press Release Roundup

  • Intelligent Medical Objects (IMO(R)) Supporting MedAptus in Preparation for ICD-10: Intelligent Medical Objects, the leading developer of medical terminology integration for Electronic Health Records Systems, announced today that MedAptus(R), the market leader for charge capture technologies, has selected Intelligent Medical Objects' IMO(R) Problem (IT) search engine for integration in its Professional Charge Capture solution. IMO's advanced search capability will provide clinical end-users of MedAptus with a rapid diagnosis search experience along with a higher degree of search accuracy when completing charge documentation using the ICD-10 code set.